Land­mark of Faith

His­toric Pine Grove Com­mu­nity Church unites wor­ship­pers in fel­low­ship and preser­va­tion.

Country - - HEART SOUL - BY DONNA KOZICK

If you at­tend ser­vices at Pine Grove Com­mu­nity Church in Wat­son, you had best be on time. The church’s unique de­sign makes it im­pos­si­ble to sneak in un­no­ticed.

Com­pleted in 1896, the church’s in­te­rior was built to re­sem­ble a lit­tle theater that the ar­chi­tect and builder, Lu­cian Rum­ble, had seen on his trav­els. Parish­ioners walked from the en­try at the front of the build­ing along a cen­tral cor­ri­dor, di­rectly to the al­tar at the back of the build­ing. Upon reach­ing the al­tar, they turned right or left to face the front of the build­ing and walked up a steeply slop­ing floor to­ward a choir loft.

First, Methodists held ser­vices in the church. Later, Men­non­ites wor­shipped and gath­ered chil­dren for va­ca­tion Bi­ble school. Classes were held in the base­ment, in tents in the yard and in tiny rooms un­der the sloped seat­ing area. As a child, I at­tended Sun­day ser­vices and Bi­ble school here.

Un­for­tu­nately, the church was un­oc­cu­pied for many years, so a group of neigh­bors of dif­fer­ent faiths banded to­gether to res­cue it. The Pine Grove Com­mu­nity Church Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety made many im­prove­ments. It’s been es­pe­cially heart­warm­ing to see the steeple stand­ing straight atop the bel­fry and to hear the bell ring­ing again.

Now a non­de­nom­i­na­tional house of wor­ship, the build­ing is listed on the Na­tional Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places. Pine Grove hosts wed­dings, semireg­u­lar ser­vices and hol­i­day events. It is a beloved land­mark in our ru­ral com­mu­nity.

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